FOI request detail

Communications about a planning committee meeting pertaining to Cockfosters station car park developmen

Request ID: FOI-2408-2122
Date published: 17 February 2022

You asked

Please could you supply me with any emails that contain the words (including the subject line of a meeting request) as follows: “Cockfosters” and “planning committee” between the dates of 1st December 2021 and 24th January 2022.

We answered

Our Ref:         FOI-2408-2122

Thank you for your request received on 24 January 2022 asking for correspondence regarding a planning committee meeting pertaining to the Cockfosters Station car park development.

Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy. I can confirm we do hold the information you require.

However, we are refusing your request under section 14(1) of the Act. After reviewing a sample of our records we consider that providing the requested information would place an unreasonable burden on us. Our principal duty is to provide an effective transport service for London and we consider that answering this request would represent a disproportionate effort. It would be a significant distraction from our work, requiring re-allocation of already limited resources and placing an unacceptable burden on a small number of personnel. We do wish to clarify that whilst we consider that your request falls under section 14(1) of the FOI Act, this does not reflect a conclusion that it has been your intention to deliberately place an undue burden on our resources.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidance states that one of the indicators of a request which may fall under section 14(1) is that it “appears to be part of a completely random approach, lacks any clear focus, or seems to have been solely designed for the purpose of ‘fishing’ for information without any idea of what might be revealed.”

The ICO guidance provides the following examples of a ‘fishing expedition’ request which may fall under section 14(1) if it:

•           Imposes a burden by obliging the authority to sift through a substantial volume of information to isolate and extract the relevant details;
•           Encompasses information which is only of limited value because of the wide scope of the request;
•           Creates a burden by requiring the authority to spend a considerable amount of time considering any exemptions and redactions.

Our view is that all three of these examples apply in this instance.

Whilst your request is specific to a degree, an initial review of the correspondence captured by your request has shown that they relate to projects besides Cockfosters which we understand is the focus of your enquiry. Given the nature of correspondence, it is likely that it would be necessary to spend a significant amount of time considering exemptions which might be applicable to the information relating to the other projects caught by the request.

We consider the burden of retrieving, reviewing and redacting the information would be disproportionate to the benefit of providing it. Therefore, due to the scope of the correspondence captured by your request, we are refusing it under s.14 of the FOI Act. If you would like to re-submit a narrower request then we will, of course, consider it. In order to narrow your request you may wish to ask for correspondence that contains the words Cockfosters AND Planning Committee OR 3 February (or however else the date may be written), but relate to either in its entirety or predominantly, to the proposed development at Cockfosters. This may still take a considerable amount of time but it will allow us to eliminate some correspondence that we have already identified.

Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.

Yours sincerely

Gemma Jacob
Senior FOI Case Officer
FOI Case Management Team
General Counsel
Transport for London

[email protected]

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